Okay. So the hottest things in houseplant couture for the past bit have been air plants and succulents. Seen 'em, done 'em. Love them both but I think it's time to bring the begonia back. Especially the hybrid ones with their kaleidoscopic colors and character. How we style our interiors and bring the "outside" in has become the big cool thing to do. Just look at publications like Elle decoration and Dwell magazine. It's become more about the personal aspect, other than that of a hired decorator, as to how we want to represent our our own style and taste. The individual is now the designer and the decorator. So with that said, indulge The Plant Provocateur for a moment as I provide yet another alternative to the selections of hip houseplants available to us. The new alternative should be all about the beguiling beauty of Begonia hybrids. The foliage options are seriously stylish and for many of us plant lovers out there...new and oh so exciting!
Recently, my friend Carlos took me to visit Kartuz Greenhouses down in Vista, California. Owner Michael Kartuz specializes in distinctive varieties of rare and unusual plants. If you too suffer from 'Plantaholism', you must check out this mail order nursery! Michael won't steer you wrong. He offers an astounding variety of spectacular begonias. Some of which you won't find anywhere else. His begonia hybridizing specialist Brad Thompson has created some of the most stunning foliage displays I have ever seen. Seeing these extraordinary specimens got me thinking. Why not style and profile interior space with one or more of these colorful, textural, super cool specimens?! I don't see people growing these plants too often and I think it's time for an interior plant revolution! These babies should be collectors items like a Mark Rothko painting or an original Alexander McQueen garment.
One thing to know about these hybrids is that it's all about the foliage and NOT the flowers. The patterns, the mosaics, the textural tapestries are so stylin' and chic. Plant one of these in a toned down container, let the foliage be spectacle, and BAM! your world comes alive with vibrant color and vivacious verve. The look is upbeat, enthusiastic, and ultra luxe.
Most hybrids are indoor plants only. They prefer bright, indirect light, and room temps around 65-75 degrees fahrenheit/18-23 degrees celsius. They like to grow in a well-draining soil mix containing peat moss. They also like to be watered until moist, but allowed to dry out slightly before their next watering. One tip is to avoid overhead watering. This can damage their stunning leaves, so use a watering device with a long snout and that can direct water below the foliage. Another tip is that they like some humidity. To provide it, set planted containers in trays lined with rock, fill with some water, and allow to evaporate. Yet another method is to line the top of the container's soil with a healthy helping of moss. When the moss is watered it will hold moisture, then let it evaporate up and through the foliage creating a source of humidity. Fertilize plants, during active growth, once a week with 1/4 strength fertilizer. These plants can go dormant and drop their foliage in the cooler winter months. If protected and provided with the average conditions they like during the other warmer months, they may forgo the shedding of leaves. Now this all might seem like a lot of maintenance but once you've got it down they're not that difficult to care for and isn't beauty worth it?!